ZocdocAnswersCan a young adult develop heart problems?

Question

Can a young adult develop heart problems?

I am a 20 yr old female, for as long as I can remember I've gotten spells where my heart will feel like its flip-flopping in my chest along with a aching throbbing sensation. I will also feel light headed and short of breath, I've always gotten winded with mild exercise and get dizzy if I stand up quickly. Heart disease/ problems run strong on both sides of my family, but when I mention it to someone they say its probably just my hormones. Should I be concerned or not?

Answer

I am sorry to hear about your symptoms. It is difficult to provide a precise diagnosis without being able to perform a full history and physical exam in person, and I encourage you to see a cardiologist to discuss your symptoms further. It is certainly possible for young people to develop cardiovascular issues, so your age alone should not provide reassurance. In general, your heart beats faster to provide additional oxygen to your other organs. This occurs during exercise but also during fever, anxiety, and conditions involving increased metabolic activity (such as hyperthyroidism). Your heart can also increase its rate inappropriately during an arrhythmia. Patients often experience this as palpitations, flip-flopping, or lightheadedness. Your heart can beat so rapidly during an arrhythmia that it cannot adequately fill between beats, which can cause you to lose consciousness. Your symptoms may certainly be due to an arrhythmia, which often occur in young people. Some common examples include atrial fibrillation, AV nodal reentrant tachycardia, and atrial tachycardia. I recommend you consult a cardiologist about your symptoms. A typical evaluation consists of a thorough medical history, physical exam, blood work to check your thyroid gland, and an EKG. Depending on this evaluation, you may need a 24-hour EKG, exercise treadmill test, or ultrasound of your heart.

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